MAST President and COO John Werner sits down with Margaret Campbell, Director of Marketing for Mayflower Cruises & Tours. John and Margaret discuss both domestic and international travel options. With advice on the type of travel that travelers are looking for. From foodie tours, to night life options, as well as great music discovery locations, and adventure travel, Mayflower is offering travers a great way to get back into travel.
Key Points Mentioned In The Podcast
#1 – One week travel is popular
“We see a good demand for the about one week, so that like 7-8 days to 10 day, that’s kind of our sweet spot in our touring domestically.”
#2 – Mayflowers a variety of tour options including air, train, motorcoach, and river cruise
“They love the variety versus always traveling by motorcoach from destination to destination. It’s just a nice way to change things up and you’re not stuck on a bus all day you can travel by train and we partner with really great partners as well.”
#3 – Hard to get reservations are included with many Mayflower tour options
“I think that one of the highlights for this is you’re going to spend two nights at the Jekyll Island club. Another kind of exclusive spot that you might not necessarily get into it.”
#4 – Mayflower is offering Alaska for this year
“Alaska cruises aren’t necessarily cruising yet, but we have a land program for Alaska.”
#5 – Mayflower is launching a new river cruise ship
“I should mention that our new ship is going to be launching in January the Emerald Azura and that’s going to sail the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Adriatic.”
Full Podcast Transcript
John W. 0:04
Hello, everyone. My name is John Werner. I’m the President of MAST Travel Network, a network of about 1,000 travel advisors that specialize in travel in all parts of the world. With me today is Margaret Campbell of Mayflower Tours. I’m going to let Margaret introduce herself and say a little bit more about herself and what she does for Mayflower Tours.
Margaret C. 0:33
Hi, everybody. I’m Margaret Campbell, I’m the Director of Marketing for Mayflower. I work with our sales team and the MAST group to educate everybody on our products. We have over 150 itineraries that are guided travel throughout the United States and around the world. We specialize in domestic travel to national parks, special events here in the States, and then we also have world tours, like African safaris and river cruising throughout the world.
John W. 1:14
Well, that’s great. I was really looking forward to our conversation today, Margaret, because I know that your company has successfully operated domestic tours already. And of course, just waiting for a little bit more guidance to start up your international tours now that some Europe has announced some reopening of some of their international borders. Things are going in the right direction. And you’ve had successfully operated tours and had very happy guests on them. We’re going to talk a little bit about that right now. We have a couple of videos we’re going to show during our chat this afternoon, and we’ll go ahead and play the first one. [Pause for video]
There are so many beautiful national parks out west of course, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons and Mount Rushmore, super popular domestic national parks. We’re going to get into some of these tours that you have a little more specifically, but just some general questions I was going to ask first. Since Mayflower Cruises and Tours offers many five day and eight day itineraries, have you seen a higher demand for some of the shorter length trips in recent years, and coming out of the other side of the pandemic, and the pent up demand for travel?
Margaret C. 6:11
We see a good demand for the about one week, so that like 7-8 days to 10 day, that’s kind of our sweet spot in our touring domestically. That’s kind of where most of our tours live. The Yellowstone tour is 10 days, it does include quite a few actual stays inside those national parks, which is nice. And that’s why it’s a little bit longer because you’re going so far, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your time there.
John W. 6:48
Very true. These parks are huge and distances out west when you’re talking about Wyoming and South Dakota, and those states, the distances between places is pretty lengthy. So, it makes sense. Another question I have is I see several variations of similar tours, whether it be through the national parks or New England fall foliage, some of these tours visit the same highlights, what is it about them that attracts travelers? Is it often the same person who might come back a second time to see something new and different that they didn’t get to do the first time? Maybe they just want to see more? What are the trends there?
Margaret C. 7:42
Agree? Yes, very much. We have a lot of repeat travelers that come back time after time, because maybe they took our Yellowstone Grand Tetons and Mount Rushmore, but they want to spend a little bit more time in Jackson Hole. They’ll come back and take our Yellowstone in Jackson Hole tour a couple of years later, because they want to spend just a couple more days there and get back to that same spot that they loved so much the first time around.
John W. 8:09
Yeah true. And you have a mix of air tours and motorcoach without any air necessary. Has the interest in motorcoach tour itineraries changed over the years? Or is the demand as high as ever?
Margaret C. 8:28
No, it’s wavering. We don’t see quite as high of a demand for it as we did in the past. We see a lot more for our air tours. And that is very evident in the size of our brochures and the number of itineraries that we’re putting out for air versus motorcoach. Now we can get you to your destination faster, and you can spend time there longer. So that’s the added benefit of the air tour versus the motorcoach tour.
John W. 9:07
Of course, yeah. And I also noticed that many of your tours include scenic rail excursions, sometimes taking a ferry or a day cruise. What is your feedback been from guests that take tours with the different modes of transportation included?
Margaret C. 9:32
They love the variety versus always traveling by motorcoach from destination to destination. It’s just a nice way to change things up and you’re not stuck on a bus all day you can travel by train and we partner with really great partners as well. We are introducing some new trips, especially this year. We’re partnering with Rocky Mountain on their new route from Denver to Moab. That’s a great representation of traveling in a different mode. But having those beautiful sceneries that you wouldn’t necessarily see if you were on a on a motorcoach on a highway all day.
John W. 10:17
Yeah. Yeah, I know, it’s great to see, in the US that there’s so many great rail experiences because sometimes you just think of rail transportation as a place to get from A to B, but there’s really neat vacation experiences wrapped around a rail journey. You feature a lot of them in your tours. We’re going to talk about some of them in just a moment. But let’s get into some of the tours if we stick with the National Parks of the West, the video we saw a minute ago shows Mount Rushmore and Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, just really iconic places. What are some of your favorites, what are some of the highlights you’d like to point out about that tour?
Margaret C. 11:13
I think that probably the number one thing that I should point out about this tour is you’re going to have two nights included inside Yellowstone National Park, you’re going to stay at the lodge. It’s not necessarily one of the easiest places to get a reservation. But with us, that’s, that’s one of the places that you stay. And then we have included touring inside the park for two days with a guide that knows where they’re going, and they’re going to take you around and you’re going to see those sites like Old Faithful and Mama’s Falls are in the, little Grand Canyon, all of the little spots that you need to see.
John W. 11:54
Margaret C. 11:57
I think that that’s probably the biggest highlight that you can’t pass up. And this year, especially going into Yellowstone, they have new restrictions. And working with a company like Mayflower, we have all of those details worked out in advance. We’re already working with the National Park Service to get everything squared away, and then providing information to our travelers prior to their tour, so that they know what to expect, and how to how to get everything, all of their ducks in a row before they even depart for their trip.
John W. 12:40
Yeah, such a time saver. Also, a way to make sure you’re not disappointed because the restrictions still exist, someone could show up thinking that they’re getting to do something that they’ve always wanted to do only to be turned away, because it’s full, or they reach capacity or whatever, didn’t order your tickets in advance, or whatever it is.
Margaret C. 13:05
John W. 13:06
Let’s move on to the San Francisco and wine country tour because that happens to be one of your shorter tours. But it’s just a really convenient, easy, getaway for people and, and you get the highlights of San Francisco. But when you go to Napa Valley, you can take the wine train there, which is another example of the of the rail experience, but some really neat wineries there, such as the Francis Ford Coppola, and that because they have a movie gallery connected with the winery where some of the memorabilia from different films is represented there. And of course, you’re drinking wine and walking around. You know, how much fun is that?
Margaret C. 14:01
Count me in right, I’m ready to go. This is a great trip, especially if you’re interested in wine. It’s a quick getaway five days. It includes, seven meals, you’re going to be flying right in and out of San Francisco. You are going to have included touring in the city. You’re going to have a couple of great wine tastings that are included. They’re going to the Chateau St. JOHN; it has a Mediterranean inspired garden. There, you’ll have a tasting. We’re also visiting the Sonoma town Plaza. And we have a tasting at the Francis Ford Coppola winery. This is this is just a really nice quick getaway if you want something easy. And like the other holidays, it’s really just already packaged up and you don’t have to worry about what your restrictions are and how am I going to get from point A to point B? And what am I going to get turned away at a at a winery because they’re at capacity? Or can I get on the train? Or is something going to be available? Yeah, not a problem, because it’s already all scheduled out for you.
John W. 15:21
Yes, that’s right. And let’s talk about Texas, you have many different tours that go to various parts of Texas but the one in particular Rivers and Rails of Texas I think of it as covering the heart of Texas because Texas is so big. And it’s hard to take it all in. You couldn’t in a in a week, but this particular tour, covers San Antonio and the Alamo. The fun River Walk there, which is a unique place as far as looking at different destinations across the country. You get to go to the Hill Country ranches, they have some more award winning wines in that part of Texas. You get to take in the Texas State railroad dome car, you go to the capital city of Austin, music there and the Fort Worth stockyards. Another iconic place that lots of people when they think of Texas, they think of that. What are your favorites about this itinerary?
Margaret C. 16:38
I love the wine country on this. I think that’s great. They’re gonna go to that Kerrville Winery. And then I think the other shining star on it are the silos and Magnolia farm. Chip and Joanna if anybody is familiar with HGTV, that’s kind of a fun thing to do. And it has some really great stopovers you’re going to have time in in the Alamo. You’re going to stay at a hotel that’s right on the Riverwalk. There’s an included cruise. On the Riverwalk there, you’ll have touring in town, you’ll have time to go out in the evening and experience the nightlife. I think that there’s a lot of like you said, Texas is huge, massive state and it’s hard to get to, to all of it. But it really this really hits the highlights. It’s Austin. It’s Fort Worth, it’s San Antonio, and I think that you’ve got some really great stopovers and those big things for me are, I love the idea of taking the train from San Antonio to Austin and I love the idea of the grape vine, vintage railroad and the into wine tasting and curb bill.
John W. 18:07
Turning our attention now to the southeast to Savannah and Charleston and Jekyll Island, that tour caught my eye. I think one of the things, Savannah and Charleston are just perennial favorites. A lot of people love to go there. It’s a destination that people return to repeatedly. Such a genteel lifestyle, I guess you could say, definitely gardens and stately homes and mansions and Victorian mansions and all that kind of stuff. But some famous movies have been filmed there like Forrest Gump. Great movie backdrops. What do you like about this itinerary?
Margaret C. 19:05
I think that one of the highlights for this is you’re going to spend two nights at the Jekyll Island club. That’s a real fun destination. Another kind of exclusive spot that you might not necessarily get into it. It was the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers that built that and that was one of their summer holiday destination. I think that’s a really fun spot. I love that you’re going to get history in each of the cities that you’re staying in. Savannah, Charleston, you’re going to see the beautiful islands and the lighthouses that are on them. Tybee and Saint-Simon. Lots of history.
John W. 19:55
Yeah. So, New England there’s quite a few different itineraries that take in New England. And the one that I really like is the Rails and Sails Autumn Foliage, you get to go to 6 states, it touches all of New England. You’re not focusing on the big cities of the Northeast. It’s really the countryside and kind of like what you picture New England to be.
Margaret C. 20:34
What makes it charming, right?
John W. 20:36
Yes, exactly. You get Conway Scenic Railroad, and you’re going to Cape Cod, you’re going to Nantucket which a lot of people want to see, they want to go to the Kennedy Museum in Hyannis, Massachusetts. You get to go to Portland, Maine and do a lot see the lobstermen and the fishing boats and so forth. What else is worth pointing out?
Margaret C. 21:09
This one’s jam packed with lots of highlights. It has New England train rides. I think that’s fun. A couple of narrow-gauge railroads, the main narrow-gauge railroad, the Conway Scenic Railroad, the Green Mountain Railroad, and the Essex steam train, and that has three cruises. It has a cruise of Portland’s Cusco Bay, the Becky Thatcher riverboat cruise and Captain John’s whale watching cruise. It does have a stop in Boston. There will be touring in Boston. You’ll see the Freedom Trail. That’s important to point out. And one of the best things about this tour is we’re including the airfare. Mayflower has free airfare on all of our 2022 departures. And even some of our 2021 departure still have free airfare,
John W. 22:14
Very value priced for sure. Yeah.
Margaret C. 22:17
It’s great. Yeah, it’s nine days and it includes 14 of your meals. And I believe one of those meals is a lobster bake.
John W. 22:27
Oh, that would be fun. One of my favorites of all of your tours is America’s Music Cities. Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans. I just think that itinerary covers all the different genres of music of popular in America, kind of like original American music. And it also includes all the shrines of American music. I call them shrines because there’s so revered places when you talk about the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry and RCA studio all in Nashville. And then when you go to Memphis Of course it takes in some studios famous for Elvis, recorded his music there and the Stax museum for soul. Aretha Franklin and Booker T. Jones and, and all those musicians and singers and so, it just so wonderful, and of course, New Orleans for jazz. What more can you tell us about this one?
Margaret C. 23:43
You’re going to spend an entire day at Graceland and the Elvis Presley compound. We’ve got time at the BB King museum. We’re going to the Delta Blues Museum, and we’ll have lunch at the Ground Zero Blues Club. That’s Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club. Plenty of touring and sightseeing in Nashville included reserved seats at the Grand Ole Opry. I think that’s definitely something to point out. New Orleans, there’s going to be touring, they have a jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi. So yeah, this is definitely a music buff kind of holiday. But it also includes some history buff itinerary options, too. There’s time at the Vicksburg National Military Park, and they are going to include the Oak Alley plantation tour as well.
John W. 24:55
Yeah, that’s a new class.
Margaret C. 24:57
Definitely very beautiful.
John W. 25:00
The last tour we’re going to talk about is Hawaii, three islands. And what’s neat about this is, for someone who, when they go to Hawaii, maybe they have been reluctant to do it just because they don’t want to have to do their own driving or their own their own thing. Mayflower has made it possible to take the guided tour there. And not a lot of people do that. But Mayflower has it. I think the three islands, Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii, they are the most three most requested islands. It’s an outdoor adventure type of experience. It’s not just going to a beach. Tell us about the highlights of this tour.
Margaret C. 25:55
You’re going to have your fresh lei experience when you arrive. We’re really excited to spend three nights with Ocean View rooms in Maui, and then three nights in a Oahu. And then two nights in Hawaii, but every place that you’re staying, you’re having an ocean view room, that’s the standard. It’s a little bit more adventure. It’s not just sit on the beach and kind of hang out. We do have some touring. We’re going to see Waikiki Beach and the Punchbowl National Cemetery. We have a couple of included dinner shows. There’s a Polynesian dinner show that includes the allusions and the pyrotechnics when we’re in Honolulu. And then we have another one when we’re in Hawaii. We’re going to go to Waimea canyon, Waimoku Falls. There is a little bit more adventure. This one does take a little bit more walking. There’s also a lot of ample free time. If you want to do a day to go and see Pearl Harbor, you can take that time to go and visit there. And we have all of the information kind of laid out for you to make your reservations to do that as well.
John W. 27:49
Sounds wonderful. We’re gonna play one more video for the New England Rail and Sails tour. [Video Plays]
It does show those iconic rail excursions that you have in that itinerary and several of them. So, Margaret, I want to just touch upon one more thing around particular themes of your tours. So, if we talk about the best adventure experiences, what would you point out two or three adventure experiences and in these tours that we’ve been talking about?
Margaret C. 31:28
Domestically, some of our best adventure tours are certainly going to be that Hawaii, three islands tour, I would have to say any of our national park’s tours are going to be a little bit more adventurous, we’ve got Yellowstone, we’ve got some great tours that go to, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Red Rocks with the Grand Canyon. We’ve got National Parks of the Southwest. We also have a really wonderful trip. And I think that for this year, it’s a real bonus. Because, you know, Alaska cruises aren’t necessarily cruising yet, but we have a land program for Alaska. So that’s one of those great, more adventurous kind of programs as well.
John W. 32:28
I’m glad you pointed that out about Alaska, because we didn’t touch upon that. But yeah, that’s a great option this year. Food and wine, we touched upon the great wines of California in Napa Valley, and we talked about wines in Texas. I think for food and wine enthusiasts, what are your favorite tours?
Margaret C. 32:59
We also have a Toronto area, Niagara Falls that wine region in there, we have a motorcoach holiday that heads up that way. I can’t not say our river cruising options. They have the best wines. The Douro, has a really great wine program. We’re looking forward to getting back to the Douro as soon as possible. And then for Italy, we’ve got a new culinary Italy program that we started last year that we’re hoping to get back to this year as well.
John W. 33:45
Yeah, I’m sure of it it’ll happen sometime in the second half of the year. What tours have nighttime activities that you want to point out? Something maybe after dinner?
Margaret C. 34:13
America’s Music Cities has some great options. It has Grand Ole Opry included tickets there. We have on our New York City stay we have included tickets to Broadway show. And then new for 2021 we have a Las Vegas, Laughlin and Lake Havasu itinerary. So that’s obviously going to have some good nightlife as well. On any of the cruising holidays you you’re gonna have plenty of nightlife activities.
John W. 34:51
Is there anything else that you want to you want to point out or bring up?
Margaret C. 35:07
I should mention that our new ship is going to be launching in January the Emerald Azura and that’s going to sail the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Adriatic. That is a 100 passenger super yacht. So that should have some good nightlife as well, because it will be in Port over overnight, but a little bit smaller of a cruising ship.
John W. 35:39
Margaret C. 35:40
It will get you into those smaller destinations. It’ll be really wonderful.
John W. 35:47
I like the sound of when you said yacht. That’s exciting..
Margaret C. 35:54
It looks beautiful. I can send you some, some images of that, too.
John W. 35:59
Yeah, please. Margaret, I really enjoyed our conversation this afternoon. And getting a really quick tour of the United States. I know Mayflower offers so much more than the domestic itineraries. We focused today on some of the favorite domestic itineraries. But of course, there’s a lot more we could be talking about. I appreciate your time today. And, again, thank you very much for talking.
Margaret C. 36:37
Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Domestic is definitely the way to focus right now. Because that’s where travelers are going to be getting back to first.
John W. 36:49
The summer in particular.
Margaret C. 36:52
Yeah. We do have some really great airfare offers on those Yellowstone programs. We have a $199 airfare offer on that. And then those New England programs for the fall, we have some select dates that still have free airfare and definitely for 2022. We have free airfare.
John W. 37:14
People should take advantage of those because, some of the air fares have been going up.
Margaret C. 37:29
And we’ll take care of all the details.
John W. 37:33
Of course, make it easy and convenient. That’s the name of the game. Thank you very much, Margaret, and we really appreciate it and hope you have a nice rest of the day.
Margaret C. 37:46
Thanks, you too, John.